WELCOME TO THE SCHOOL OF FAITH - BUILT UPON THE ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
At the centre of our faith is Jesus Christ the living head of the Church.
We are called to go forward together as a pilgrim people in sole loyalty to Him, and look forward to the day when Christ will make ‘clear that the Kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of the Christ, who shall reign for ever and ever’ (BoU para. 1).
The School of Faith seeks do the following:
To lay out the Christian faith as outlined in the Basis of Union, and what that means for us today;
To teach and disciple individual Christians and congregations to respond in faith to Christ's call in worship, witness and service;
To resource individuals and congregations to engage the Gospel of Jesus Christ with Australia’s multicultural and pluralist society.
To enable teaching and training for candidates in ministry, ministry leaders and ministers.
The Uniting Church acknowledges that the faith and unity of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are built upon the one Lord Jesus Christ.
The Church preaches Christ the risen crucified One and confesses him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. In Jesus Christ "God was reconciling the world to himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19 RSV). In love for the world, God gave the Son to take away the world’s sin (BoU para. 3).
THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH
The Basis of Union is the confessional statement of the Uniting Church. It is not a full and comprehensive statement of the Christian faith. Rather it points to where that faith is to be found and reminds the Church of what that faith lays upon it. In doing that, the Basis of Union indicates what living and working within the faith and mission of the one holy catholic and apostolic church means to it.
The Basis of Union helps the Church in three ways:
It demonstrates the Church’s claim to be in continuity with the biblical witness;
It provides the Church with authoritative doctrinal standards; and
It offers a theological base for the ordering of the Church and its ministries.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE BASIS OF UNION
The Basis of Union is said to be authoritative in four ways
It has doctrinal authority. It is doctrinal in that it unfolds the faith of the Uniting Church. Its authority lies in the way in which it clarifies what holds the Uniting Church within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
2. It exercises a teaching authority. In it, members of the Uniting Church find an answer to two questions: (a) What does it mean to be a Christian? (b) What does it mean to be member of the Uniting Church in particular?
3. It is authoritative in determining the polity of the Church.
4. It is authoritative for determining standards of discipline for the Church’s members, ministers and councils. Discipline, like faith and order, arises out of the gospel and is accountable to the gospel.
THE POLITY OF THE CHURCH
The Basis of Union is authoritative to determine the polity of the Church. The Basis of Union holds together ‘faith’ and ‘order’.
The ‘order’ of the Uniting Church grows out of and is controlled by its ‘faith’.
That must always be so, for the church is the creation of the gospel, called into being by the gospel and given shape by the gospel. If order is divorced from faith, what then determines the order of the church? Expediency? The structures of big business? What its members think would be most efficient?
Paragraphs 14-18 of the Basis of Union, which deal with the ordering of the Church, grow out of and are dependent upon paragraphs 1-13.
ADHERENCE TO THE BASIS OF UNION
What does it mean to say that one adheres to the Basis of Union?
Adherence to the Basis of Union” is understood as willingness to live and work within the faith and unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as that way is described in this Basis. Such adherence allows for difference of opinion in matters which do not enter into the substance of the faith” (BoU Para. 14).
Adherence to the Basis of Union is much more than intellectual assent to the Basis. It is an undertaking or commitment “to live and work” within the faith and unity of the Church. To adhere to the Basis of Union is to make a deep personal commitment to live in accordance with the Church’s faith and to honour and uphold its unity. The faith and unity spoken of here is not simply the faith and unity of the Uniting Church in Australia. It is “the faith and unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Individual office-bearers are not left to discover or decide for themselves what living and working "within the faith and unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" is supposed to mean. The Basis of Union provides the orientation needed for determining that (Michael Owen - Back to Basics. p.190).
ALLOWANCE FOR DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
There is potential for misunderstanding with the qualification, “Such adherence allows for difference of opinion in matters which do not enter into the substance of the faith. What constitutes “substance of the faith”? Is a person who has expressed adherence to the Basis of Union free to express and promote opinions that, while not impinging on the substance of the faith, are contrary to required disciplines of the Uniting Church? The Rev. Dr. Gordon Dicker has wisely commented:
Freedom to hold different opinions on matters that do not enter into the substance of the faith also must involve the freedom to express them. However, willingness to live and work within the faith and unity of the Church does not permit one to express differing views in a manner which causes strife and puts unity under threat. Nor does liberty of opinion in matters which do not enter into the essence of the faith permit one to act in any way one please in matters, particularly… where the position and policy of the church have already been stated.
The above information is what we believe to be vital for understanding the faith and order of the Church. Taken from “The Status, authority and role of the Basis of Union within the Uniting Church in Australia”. A discussion paper issued by the Assembly 1996.